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Fresh protests erupted in Haryana's Gurugram, Delhi's Nangloi, and several districts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, 16 June, a day after the Ministry of Defence's new Agnipath scheme for recruitment of youth into the armed forces was announced.
The new policy has been met with public ire in several states, with aspirants demanding for the rollback of the policy. The protesters questioned the long-term prospects of the job and claimed that they expected regular recruitment rallies to restart after two years, but were instead offered this scheme.
Meanwhile, inquiries from a variety of sources, including veterans and experts, indicate that a four-year term will sap the fighting spirit of the troops and make them risk-averse.
Bihar: In the Kaimur district of Bihar, protesters set fire to a train at the Bhabua Road Railway Station. Meanwhile, protesters also attacked and set fire to the Nawada Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) district office on Thursday.
Haryana: Heavy stone pelting and lathi charge took place between the police and hundreds of protesters over the Agnipath scheme in Haryana's Palwal. The demonstrators blocked the National Highway No 19 by setting tires on fire, and several vehicles were left charred.
Delhi: Youths blocked the railway track in the national capital, and stopped one train, going from Jind to old Delhi.
Gurugram: Hundreds on Thursday took to the streets in Bilaspur and Sidhrawali areas of Gurugram and Rewari, against the Agnipath scheme. The protesters blocked traffic on the Gurugram-Jaipur highway, and held a protest at Bilaspur Chowk.
UP: In several districts, youth took to the streets with tricolor and posters against the government's new scheme. As the protesters blocked the roads, some clashes were reported between the youth and the police.
MP: Violence also broke out in Gwalior, MP and army reinforcements were called in. The protesters also tried to block the railway but were lathi-charged by the police.
BIHAR: Train Set Ablaze, BJP office in Nawada District Set on Fire
In the Kaimur district of Bihar, protesters set fire to a train at the Bhabua Road Railway Station. Visuals from the showed hundreds of youths gathered at various sites in Bihar.
Meanwhile, protesters also attacked Nawada Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) district office on Thursday.
The office was allegedly ransacked and set on fire. All the documents and other items including 300 chairs were burnt.
"They are protesting on the railway tracks. We are trying to pacify them. We are making an effort to clear the railway track. We are monitoring the situation," Kaimur SP Rakesh Kumar was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
In Arrah, the police reportedly fired tear gas shells at protesters gathered at a railway station.
Youths protested by lying down on the railway tracks in Jehanabad and Buxar districts. Hundreds of agitators blocked National Highway 83 in Jehanabad and burned tyres, demanding the scrapping of the scheme.
Protests were also staged in Chhapra, Nawada Jehanabad, and Munger. Tyres were burnt at various places, while in Chhapra, the demonstrators vandalised a bus.
Further, BJP District President Sanjay Kumar Munna head to the BJP office. Fire tenders have also reached the spot to control the fire.
Meanwhile, Munna claimed that the incident happened due to the negligence of the district administration. The rioters were creating ruckus in the district since morning.
He said that BJP MLA from Warisliganj Aruna Devi was also attacked in the morning. He questioned, “So why was the district administration not alert?”
He added that the rioters are deliberately targeting the BJP in the name of the scheme.
Munna alleged that in spite of the office being 5 km away from the city, the "rioters" reached the office with the intention to cause destruction.
Sadar SDO Umesh Kumar Bharti and SDPO Upendra Prasad also reached the BJP district office and the district administration faced agitation from the BJP leaders demanding action against the rioters.
BJP Warisaliganj MLA Aruna Devi was also allegedly attacked on Thursday morning near the railway crossing near Nawada railway station while her driver suffered minor injuries.
HARYANA: Highway Protests in Palwal
There was heavy stone pelting and lathi charge between the police and hundreds of protesters over the Agnipath scheme in Haryana's Palwal.
The demonstrators blocked the National Highway No 19 by setting tires on fire on the highway. The protesters also broke the grill on both sides of the highway. Police was deployed on the spot but the situation seemed to be out of control of the police.
With both the sides of the highway jammed due to the protests, thousands of vehicles were stuck in the jam.
The protesters also charged at the police with lathis and set three police vehicles on fire and were completely burnt. Local vehicles stuck in the jam were vandalised by the stone pelting, and set ablaze.
Deputy Magistrate of Palwal, Narendra Singh Yadav indicated that the protests lasted for 4-5 hours, and several people were injured.
DELHI: Youths Stop Train in Nangloi
About 15-20 boys gathered at the railway station in Delhi's Nangloi on Thursday, protesting the delay in railway recruitment examinations and the Agnipath scheme. The youths stopped one train, going from Jind to old Delhi.
As per DCP Outer Delhi the SHO Nangloi along with other police station staff reached at the spot immediately, and requested protesters to vacate the railway track peacefully. "They were pacified and the crowd was dispersed," said the police official.
"At present the situation is under control and all the students have dispersed from the railway track," he added.
GURUGRAM: Protesters Block Traffic in the City
Hundreds on Thursday took to the streets in Bilaspur and Sidhrawali areas of Gurugram and Rewari, against the Agnipath scheme. The protesters blocked traffic on the Gurugram-Jaipur highway, and held a protest at Bilaspur Chowk.
"Due to a local protest, traffic is diverted at Bilaspur Chowk (NH-48). All commuters using this route are requested to take alternative routes," Gurugram Traffic Police said in an advisory.
UP: Youth Raise Slogans Against Defence Minister, PM Modi
In UP's Bulandshahr, youth preparing for recruitment in the army took to the streets with tricolor and posters against the government's new scheme. As the protesters blocked the roads, some clashes were reported between the youth and the police, as the latter forcefully cleared the jam.
In Unnao and Shuklaganj, slogans were raised against Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while many youths carried posters. The police attempted to disperse the protesters.
The protesters raised concerns about the four-year period for which the aspirants will be recruited.
Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Lok Dal indicated that it will hold demonstrations at all district headquarters of Uttar Pradesh on June 18 and hold 'Yuva Panchayat' in 11 districts of West UP from 28 June to 16 July.
MP: Violence Breaks Out In Gwalior
Violence also broke out in Gwalior, MP over the central government's scheme.
With the escalating situation, Army reinforcements were called in. The protesters also tried to block the railway but were lathi-charged by the police.
Many people, including a few journalists, have suffered injuries.
The Agnipath Scheme
The scheme allows for the induction of about 45,000 people aged 17.5 to 21 years into the military for a four-year period. Recruitment for the same is supposed to begin in the next 90 days, with the first wave expected to arrive in July 2023.
Furthermore, there will be a six-month training period during which they would be paid a monthly wage of Rs 30,000-40,000 as allowances. Candidates will be able to obtain insurance and medical benefits as well.
Only 25 percent of these troops will be retained after four years, and they will serve for a total of 15 years in non-officer ranks.
The remaining employees will receive a package worth between Rs 11 lakh and Rs 12 lakh when they leave the service, but they will not be eligible for pension benefits.
(With inputs from Tanveer Alam.)